Language Challenge 180: Week 12 Check In

by Corey · 23 comments

This page is for Language Challenge 180 participants only. Sign up now to join this event!

Getting Too Comfortable?

How did things go this week? Did you take some time to rest a little and/or focus on what is/is not working with your and/or your children’s language learning?

Hopefully you were able to use this 12 week mark (which is close to the middle of our Language Challenge 180 adventure!) for reflection and motivation. Often we get so caught up into something (language learning and multilingualism included) that we forget to step back and take a good look at it from the outside.

An interesting element of language learning is that sometimes we don’t realize that the things that seem to be working the best were great at the beginning but now are actually holding us back. We don’t realize that the things that feel most comfortable may actually be turning us into lazy language learners.

Reading the same book to your child every night in the target language is wonderful. Aside from the warmth and comfort that comes with snuggling together, language is being absorbed and solidified (especially when the book is discussed). However, sometimes we don’t realize that we are reading the same book out loud out of language laziness and are missing out on the true language development that could be taking place!

It is for this reason that we need to mix things up a bit (for our children’s and our own language learning). We need to use new words, sentences, topics, grammatical forms regularly so that our language abilities will develop and grow and thrive.

Mastery in anything comes from a combination of dedicated focus on the same things (until we really know them well) as well as adding in new elements regularly (not too much, just enough to keep things progressing). Finding this balance will be the key to your/your children’s language learning adventure.

Here are some examples:

  • Reading: The first time you read a book, you/your child may feel overwhelmed. Yet, after reading it over and over again, you find that it becomes more familiar as the language is learned (vocabulary, grammar, sentence structures, etc.). As it becomes more familiar, make sure to also pick out little things to work on, for example: (1) choose a few verbs and make sure you can conjugate them, (2) choose some nouns and make sure you know the articles and how to decline them (3) memorize some of the sentences and/or paragraphs.
  • Videos: You will most likely have found videos for yourself and/or your children that are enjoyable and fairly easy to understand. Excellent! Now take the next step and find a few that you/your children would really, really, really like to watch but are a little too difficult. Watch them, but just a little bit at a time (even just a few minutes a day). Rewind them over and over again until you really understand what is being said. You can even put on the subtitles in the target language (read the Telenovela Method for learning a language post for ideas on how to do this) to help you if you’d like. You might even write down some of the subtitles to make sure you learn them well.
  • Writing: Usually we start with learning how to write in the present tense. Once you feel comfortable with that, pick another tense and write in that: past, future, etc. Or pick a subject that you rarely write about (science, literature, films, etc.) and write about that. It will force you to learn how to write words that you may never have had to write before! If the language you are learning has accented letters, take some time to work on words that have unexpected accents or are spelled oddly.

These are just a few ideas for how to make sure you don’t get too comfortable in your language learning.

Aim for 70% comfort/familiarity and 30% new/challenging. This balance will ensure that over time you/your children don’t get completely burnt out and you/they won’t just be doing the same things over and over again without building language mastery.

Today’s Check-In Activity

  • Check-In Activity: In the comment section below, share any and all thoughts about your and/or your children’s language learning thus far.
    How are things going overall? Do you feel that you/your children have gotten so burnt out that you don’t want to go on? Do you feel that your/your children’s language is progressing or are you/they just doing the same things over and over again? Or maybe you feel great about language learning so far? Perhaps you/your children have found your/their second wind?
  • Giveaway: After you leave a comment below, head over to the current giveaway and enter! Once you check in, you can enter! It is just what you need to get back on track!


Don’t forget to visit the Multilingual Living Forum to ask a question, start a discussion or give someone else some support. You do NOT have to log in to post there. We encourage you to check out the Language Challenge 180 section as well as the other sections. And come check us out at Pinterest! We’d love to share with you there!

Have you checked on your target language pages lately? Add comments for new products/tips/advice/conversations that you have on your mind!

Keep an eye out for your next email which will arrive on Monday! Keep up the fantastic work!

1 Dominick May 27, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I am thoroughly enjoying my time spent reading and listening to talk radio in Spanish, but I cannot for the life of me pick up any motivation to write. I need a good topic to write about that is more interesting than the usual “write for writing’s sake” topics. Perhaps I should find Spanish language chatgroups.

2 Wendy May 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Singing songs and reading stories seems to work well for my 7-year-olds. They’ve learned numerous nouns and adjectives, but I need to work with them on conjugating verbs and speaking in sentences. As for me, I’ve become comfortable listening to lessons on a CD as I commute and from work. Having renewed the CD three times from the library, I’ll need to turn it in soon, which will force me to try a new language program, at least for a little while. I also need to work on speaking more with my girls.

3 Jane May 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

It’s easy to think you’re not making progress because you are constantly challenging yourself to improve. I was watching the French news yesterday and realising that, even though I still feel there’s a lot to learn, I am understanding far more than 12 weeks ago

4 Alex May 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm

So true. 12 weeks ago, one word in German was the basic sum of our knowledge . 12 weeks ago, I wasn’t able to sing, read or do anything in German. Now, it’s like I’m a German five year old. Progress has been made!

5 Alex May 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm

We were going great until the rut- in – the- road syndrome began. One too many re-reads, songs,and games. Then we got scared , accelerated to far , and burned ourselves out. I think what works is the whole idea of replacing media and books with the target language versions.

6 Heather May 27, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I find it helpful to vary my input methods and materials frequently to keep it interesting. I will listen to one or two audiobooks for a couple of weeks then find new ones. The same with books etc. Lately I haven’t been doing much specific grammar drills but have been picking it up in context.

7 audrey May 27, 2012 at 10:24 pm

After reading all these fab comments I feel a bit crappy to say…at times I don’t feel I have the time energy or capacity to keep going with the eldest. Some days are really good. Just need to keep going and not be defeated. It’s easy with the youngest who has no choice. Been reading bilingual books with the oldest he awayleays gravitates to the English or liked to change dvd languid to english

8 Cynthia H May 27, 2012 at 11:43 pm

It was fun to take a break by watching movies and cartoons in Italian. Instead of actually working on learning it was pure play.

9 Maria Iskenderoglu May 28, 2012 at 2:57 am

This has again been a tough week. I am in the middle of final exams and getting over an illness. What hasn’t worked for us is fitting in studies. I clearly see that work during midterms and finals takes priority over our learning.
Just to say something positive, I think I have a tutor for myself for the summer and that is pretty exciting. This challenge has made me take little steps and I’ve reached the point where I am ready to give more…at least for the summer.
thank you to everyone for their great ideas and to Language Challenge for a swift kick in the starter!

10 Murray May 28, 2012 at 4:08 am

This week, I signed out some French children’s books from the library.
I also started watching and listening to ‘Vidéos de musique pour enfants’ by La chaîne de Mme Duckworth ( It was time for a change.

11 Jenny May 28, 2012 at 4:19 am

I think things are going pretty well. The kids usually enjoy our language learning times together. I sometimes feel like I need some more ideas of creative things to do with them. I think I get bored with things quicker than they do.

12 Linda M May 28, 2012 at 5:48 am

It’s interesting that you should mention reading the same book. I have just started reading Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal over again. I read it (sort of) when I first started learning Spanish last summer, always keeping my English language copy by my side so I could translate when needed (which was almost every sentence). Now, after almost a year of studying I find it much easier to understand. I should probably not be shocked by this, but as someone above mentioned, when you challenge yourself and reach above your level it really is easy to feel as if progress isn’t being made.

Now if I could only manage to get my children more interested in keeping up…

13 cindy May 28, 2012 at 6:42 am

We just joined the challenge, but we are excited about working on our language learning! We’ve been using Little Pim dvd’s to introduce the kiddo to Spanish, and he loves them! We need to try reading, but haven’t done much of that yet.

14 Amy May 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm

we are having a hard time fitting in our study of arabic, as we moved to Lebanon exactly one week ago and it was crazy in the week leading up to the move, and the week since. However, we are at least hearing more arabic around us, and hopefully will start lessons with a tutor this week!

15 Katina May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I am having fun with my children learning Spanish. They are really starting to get the hang of it and learning lots of new words at their pace.

16 Wendy May 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Hi Katina,

What are you trying with your kids that they enjoy? How old are they? I’m having trouble keeping my 7-year-olds engaged.


17 Amber May 29, 2012 at 5:22 am

We just joined the challenge and I am really excited about my girls learning portuguese. I am learning along-side them, and I do tend to get frustrated and somewhat burned out at times. They are 4 and 2 and I think we are doing pretty well with vocabulary around the house and some of the movies and shows I’ve found on YouTube. I only have a couple of children’s books in Portuguese, but have found some book apps on the iPad that are helpful.

18 Becky Smith May 29, 2012 at 8:15 am

My oldest son doesn’t want to have anything to do with Russian anymore, because he feels it was forced on him too much. He never liked the language since he first heard it at the age of three. My second child likes Russian, but is frustrated with how much work it is. I try to do 30 minutes with her everyday, and I’m encouraged with her progress. Our youngest son hasn’t been pushed into it, but just flows into the process as he watches everyone else busy themselves with the learning process.

19 Tracey May 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I/we have good days and bad days. Living in a Spanish country it is easy to find ‘resources’ – our life is surrounded by them – my main concern is the interaction between myself and my girls so that when we are removed form this environment I will continue to provide this language stimulation even though Spanish is not my first language. We do not focus on verbs and all that grammatical stuff as it is just natural for the girls, but we do homework, live, relate to friends and neighbours and shopkeepers and teachers and bus drivers in Spanish. When we leave here they will have all of that in English and only me and Sunday School in Spanish (conversations with older siblings and friends in Spanish by Skype and phone) and maybe we can find some friends and clubs to join in Spanish. I am hopeful that in the next few months I make Spanish my number one language with my children but it is an effort to do it at all times as some people think I should be using English with them.

20 Celia May 31, 2012 at 12:13 am

Variety seems to be the order of this challenge!;-) my boys don’t have a long attention span usually about 5 minutes each time so I try not to pack in too much but read little stories regularly. Tv if course is also good although I’m not sure how much 3 yr old twins gleam from just watching;-)

21 Francesca May 31, 2012 at 2:49 am

Feel the need of more exposure to native speakers. It’s difficult here in Rome.
And moreover I’m starting to be tired of the working year…(from september we had our first real stop only in may).
Anyway…reading, listening and talking with my son in english is always a priority for me!
Hope it works 🙂

22 Emma May 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I was quite late ordering CD resources so we have plenty German tunes and a learn Gaelic CD on the go. Have been reading a bit less as we’ve been home a bit less but most new words we’ve learnt I can spell. A close friend has been inspired to join us in learning German!

23 Donovan Nagel June 1, 2012 at 2:05 am

This week I was watching an Irish soap called Ros na Rún (I’ve been using it as a learning tool since I started this challenge and now I’m hooked on it! :)) and like an epiphany, I realized that my Irish has moved up to a much higher level. Things are really making sense when I listen and read now.

It really is an amazing feeling when things that were previously very confusing all start coming together.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: